Reports of 17 E. coli infections from seven states across the country due to an as-yet undetermined source have prompted an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and state health authorities.
The illnesses occurred between March 22 and March 31, 2018, in the following states – Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington. No specific food item has been identified a likely source of the infections at this time.
Health authorities are working to determine what those who had been sickened had consumed before they fell ill, where they bought and consumed it, and to identify the distribution chain of these foods – all with the goal of identifying any common foods or points in the distribution chain where the food might have become contaminated.
The offending bacterium has been identified as Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) E. coli. Symptoms vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. If there is fever, it is usually not very high (less than 101 degrees). Most people recover within five to seven days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
About 5 to 10 percent of those who are diagnosed with STEC infection develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, fatigue, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. Most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die. Anyone with symptoms of HUS should seek immediate medical attention because their kidneys may stop working (acute renal failure) as well as other serious problems including hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and neurological problems.
Young children, adults 65 years of age or older, and people with compromised immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness, including HUS. But even healthy, older children and young adults can become seriously ill from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.
Source: FDA Outbreak Update